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'Misleading hearing': Novel's advocacy team skeptical over acid attack trial

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Jakarta Post - May 11, 2020

Rizki Fachriansyah, Jakarta – The advocacy team for Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) senior investigator Novel Baswedan has expressed skepticism over the legal proceedings surrounding his acid attack case, claiming that the hearing had been compromised by factual discrepancies and oversight from the start.

The group argued that the trial for the case, which saw four hearings at the North Jakarta District Court, failed to connect the attack to Novel's work with the antigraft body and viewed the assault as a random act of violence instead.

"In their indictment, the prosecutors only regarded the acid attack against Novel Baswedan as an ordinary assault that is unrelated to [Novel's work] and [part of] systematic efforts to weaken the KPK," the group said in a statement on Sunday.

It said the indictment contradicted the results of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the National Police's fact-finding efforts, which established a connection between the acid attack and Novel's handling of major graft cases, such as a bribery case involving businessman Basuki Hariman and former Constitutional Court justice Patrialis Akbar, as well as the electronic ID graft case involving former Golkar Party chairman Setya Novanto.

"The indictment did not mention any information as to who ordered the attack on Novel Baswedan. The prosecutors in charge of the investigation could only intend to [indict] the perpetrators [as they presented themselves on the field]," the team said, adding that the prosecutor had stopped short of mentioning the possible involvement of any "mastermind" in the attack.

The advocacy team further argued that there was a deliberate attempt to remove crucial evidence and witnesses from the court, complicating ongoing efforts to shed some light on the truth.

"[...] key witnesses' statements to the National Police and Komnas HAM were not presented to the court," the team said, adding that it was possible that a number of witnesses were intimidated into staying silent.

The court indicted in March two police officers who were allegedly involved in the acid attack against Novel on April 11, 2017.

Prosecutor Fedrik Adhar charged the defendants, low-ranking officers of Depok's Kelapa Dua mobile brigade Ronny Bugis and Rahmat Kadir Mahulete, under Article 355 of the Criminal Code on premeditated ill treatment, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 years' imprisonment upon conviction.

According to the indictment, the two defendants claimed that the assault was due to a grudge over Novel's work as an investigator for the KPK, which has sent powerful state officials, including top police generals such as Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo, to prison. The two perceived this as a form of resistance against the National Police.

However, Novel told journalists earlier this month that he doubted the defendants' motive in carrying out the attack.

"Low-ranking police officers usually live a simple life, which means that they are people who are not using their authority to seek profit or wealth," Novel told reporters, "If the defendants have a grudge because I am fighting corruption, I don't think it makes sense."

Novel's advocacy team called on the Supreme Court's supervisory board and the Judicial Commission to directly monitor what it claimed was a "misleading hearing" to ensure that the proceedings remain impartial and fair so that the true identity of the mastermind could be brought to light.

Furthermore, it also urged the National Police to refrain from providing legal assistance to the two defendants to prevent any conflicts of interest.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/05/11/misleading-hearing-novels-advocacy-team-skeptical-over-acid-attack-trial.html

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